#18 CWRU to Face Road Test at Westminster on Saturday

#18 CWRU to Face Road Test at Westminster on Saturday

2018 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #4 – #18 CWRU (3-0, 2-0 PAC, 1-0 UAA) vs. Westminster College (3-1, 3-0 PAC)
Saturday, September 29, 2018 · 7:00 p.m. · New Wilmington, Pa. (Harold Burry Stadium)

Complete Game Notes (.PDF):
Live Stats: https://athletics.westminster.edu/sidearmstats/football/summary
Video: http://pacathletics.org/watch/default.aspx?Live=149&path=westminster

The 18th-ranked Case Western Reserve University football team will begin a challenging stretch of back-to-back road games against the other two teams undefeated in Presidents' Athletic Conference play this season, when the Spartans (3-0, 2-0 PAC, 1-0 UAA) travel to New Wilmington, Pennsylvania to face Westminster College at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 29th.

The Spartans have opened the season with a 3-0 record, including a 2-0 mark in Presidents' Athletic Conference games and a 1-0 record in road contests.  CWRU is coming off a 63-20 win at home against Thiel last weekend, matching the second-highest single-game point total in program history.  Through three games this season, the Spartans have averaged 50.0 points per game on 532.3 yards of offense (206.0 rushing and 326.3 passing), while allowing 17.7 points per game on 265.7 total yards (52.0 rushing and 213.5 passing).

Freshman quarterback Drew Saxton has completed 69.5% of his passes (eighth in DIII) for 853 yards and ten touchdowns with just one interception.  Junior Sam Jenkins has been the team's leading rusher with 174 yards and two scores on the ground, while also catching three passes for 134 yards and an additional touchdown.  Senior wide receiver Justin Phan has collected 23 passes for 233 yards this year, and sophomore wide receiver Colt Morgan has added 17 receptions for 217 yards and six touchdowns (sixth among all DIII receivers this year).  Defensively, junior linebacker Isaac Withrow leads the team with 21 tackles, senior defensive end Cameron Brown has 15 tackles, including 4.0 for a loss, 2.5 sacks, and three quarterback hurries, and junior safety Patrick Crossey, junior cornerback Luke Bedell and freshman cornerback Colin Schuster each have an interception.

CWRU is led by Head Coach Greg Debeljak, a 1988 graduate of John Carroll University, who in his 15th season at the team's helm.  He currently holds a 105-43 career record, good for a .709 winning percentage, and has led the team to six UAA Championships, four NCAA playoff appearances, and its first PAC Championship in 2017.  Debeljak was named the PAC Coach of the Year last season, while also securing the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year Award for the sixth time in 2017.

After dropping their season-opening contest on the road to 14th-ranked Wittenberg, Westminster will enter Saturday's meeting with the Spartans on a three-game winning streak, all in conference play, including a 21-3 win over Bethany College in its home opener last Saturday.  The Titans are averaging 25.0 points per game on 270.8 yards of offense (175.8 passing and 95.0 rushing), while allowing 15.8 points on 222.8 yards per game (160.2 passing and 62.5 rushing).

Junior quarterback Augustus NeCastro has completed 60.2% of his passes for 638 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions, while senior quarterback Shamon Walker has seen time as well, rushing for 69 yards and a pair of scores.  The team's leading rusher is junior Bryce Hill with 154 yards and a touchdown, while the team's leading receivers are junior Connor Cox (16 receptions, 209 yards, one touchdown) and senior Bryson Paulinellie (14 receptions, 226 yards, one touchdown).  On defense, junior linebacker Paul Gonzalez leads the team with 33 total tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and three sacks, and both senior cornerback Marvin Liberste and junior cornerback Aaron Piece have notched a pair of interceptions.

Westminster is coached by Scott Benzel, who is a 1997 graduate of Mercyhurst.  Now in his fifth season with the team, Benzel has notched an overall record of 31-15, good for a .674 winning percentage.

Saturday's game will be the third-ever meeting between the Spartans and the Titans, each of which has taken place over the last three years.  Case Western Reserve claimed a 26-22 victory over Westminster in New Wilmington during the 2016 season, and followed that with a 41-10 win at home last year.

During last year's win, the Spartans jumped out to a 14-0 lead and led 28-10 by halftime, en route to the 31-point victory over the Titans.  Jacob Burke carried the ball 26 times for 160 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Spartans' offense during the game, while Patrick Crossey paced the defense with 11 tackles.

For the second-straight week, the Spartans were ranked 18th in the D3football.com Top-25, released on Sunday.  After starting the year ranked 23rd in the preseason poll, CWRU moved up one spot to 22nd in the week one top-25, and to 19th in the week two rankings.  The Spartans also remained at 18th in this week's AFCA poll, released on Monday.

Case Western Reserve has won each of its last 13 regular season games, dating back to the start of the 2017 season.  The Spartans are 22-1 over their last 23 regular season games, and 29-4 (a .879 winning percentage) in the regular season since the start of the 2015 campaign.

Since becoming a football affiliate member of the Presidents' Athletic Conference in 2014, the Spartans have gone 26-8 in conference play, good for a .765 winning percentage.  CWRU has won ten-straight PAC contests and 17 of their last 18 league games.

Case Western Reserve is 30-3 in its last 33 night games dating back to the 2006 season, including a 12-0 record in night games over the last four seasons.  Saturday's game will be the fourth of five night games this season for the Spartans, and will end a stretch of four-straight evening contests to start the year.

Case Western Reserve scored on all 16 of its trips into the red zone this season, including a perfect seven-for-seven on red zone chances against Westminster last Saturday.  The Spartans have converted 15 touchdowns and one field goal on their 16 red zone trips in 2018, scoring eight via the run and seven via the pass.

CWRU held Thiel to a negative rushing total in Saturday's game, allowing -10 yards on the ground in the contest.  For the season, the Spartans have allowed just 52.0 rushing yards per game, the fewest in the PAC this season and the 17th-lowest mark among all Division III teams.

The Spartans' defense sack Thiel's quarterbacks seven times during Saturday's win, setting a new program record for sacks in a single game.  Seven different Spartan players had at least half a sack in the game, including a career-high 2.5 for senior defensive tackle Ian Henderson and 1.5 for Cameron Brown.  CWRU has totaled 13 sacks through the first three games of the season and leads all PAC teams with 4.33 sacks per game, the 12th-best mark in all of Division III.

Ian Henderson was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week after his 2.5 sack game against Thiel on Saturday.  It marks the second time over his career that he has earned the honor.  In addition, Drew Saxton was named the UAA Offensive Athlete of the Week and the PAC Rookie of the Week for his performance against Thiel, claiming each honor for the second time this season.

The Spartans claimed the first PAC Championship in program history in 2017, sharing the conference title with Washington & Jefferson College after each squad went 8-0 in PAC games during the year.  CWRU also won the UAA Championship for the seventh time in program history, and claimed sole possession of the league title for the fifth time.  It marked the second-straight UAA Championship for Case Western Reserve.